Chapter 6 – Power and Price
“I-I-I-It’s terrible. President!”
As Kashimaru Corona jumped into the student council president's room with a pale expression. She then tangled her feet and fell on her face.
The Le Wolfe student council president's room was located in the deepest part of the central school building; Yet, if there was no window, there was almost no kind of ornaments either, just the bare minimum. But not only was it not shabby in the least, but also the sparse furniture was solidly made, and there were just the right things, which let one feel the height and dignity of style.
“……What’s the matter?” Asked Dirk in an lousy tone.
Dirk, who was sitting in a chair too big for his size, didn't even glance at her. Corona, while in such disarray, was anxiously putting in order the electronic documents at hand.
“Th-That’s… Urzaiz-san suddenly says that she wants to speak to you……”
In just the spot where Corona said that, while holding the tip of her nose, the door of the student council president room was blown away with a thunderous roar.
“Hyaa!?” Corona went to the floor.
“––Yo Dirk, I intrude.”
As Corona timidly turned around, Irene, who carried the Gravi-Sheaththe Bloody Scythe of Supreme Destruction in her hand, was standing there with a fearless smile.
In addition to all this, when looking behind her, the figures of the guards who protected this room were lying on the floor in a heap.
“Awawawawa……!” Corona squalled while crawling on all fours.
Corona finally reached where Dirk was and hid behind his back.
“Irene, it may not look like it', but I’m very busy, you know?”
Although Dirk rested his hands, which were processing the documents, still he was not unfazed at all.
“Is that so? Well then, let’s quickly settle that.”
As Irene said so, she casually swung Gravi-Sheath downward.
“Kyaa!?” Corona jumped up and screamed.
The office desk in front of Dirk was cut in two.
However, –– as expected, Dirk did not even bat an eyelid.
“……What do you think you’re doing?”
“Oh, that’s my line. I had thought that you were a man, who always keeps his promises.” Irene counterclaimed.
“Of course, I always keep my promises. If I wasn’t, I would have been long ago buried in a grave.”
“Which mouth brawl that!”
To those words, a violent bloodlust was released from Irene’s body, and Gravi-Sheath raised a growl.
But, the next moment, Irene greatly jumped back; she lowered her body and turned a cautious look on her surroundings.
“Tsk, so you also let a “cat” lie hidden here, huh!”
“Unlike you, I’m a frail ordinary person, you know? This much precaution is natural.”
“Cat” is the codename of the students attached to the “Black Cat Organization”, who carried secret tasks under the direct control of the student council. That said, even Corona had never met its members, and did not even know really what kind of organization it was. She had at least heard that it was divided into “silver eyes”, which barely acted within the school, and “golden eyes” consisting mainly of intelligence/work activities off-campus.
As Corona, who was petrified with terror just before, restlessly looked around inside the room, there was no other person’s figure other than Dirk and Irene to be found. In the first place, there was no place in this room where someone could hide.
Even so, as Irene had certainly felt someone’s presence, she did not move while cautiously raising her guard.
“So, let’s hear what made you spit out such a false accusation.”
“……Today, Priscilla was attacked. I won’t let you say that you didn’t know.”
“Oh, that matter, huh.”
“Has such a thing happened?” Dirk said in a light tone.
“Don’t tell me you’re suspicious of me. In the first place, there were people of the entertainment district, right? Originally, it was the seeds that you sowed.”
“I’m aware of that. But –– in the contract terms I’ve made with you, there should have been Priscilla’s protection included. Don’t tell you’ve forgotten!”
“Of course, I remember. I’ve already notified not to lay a finger on you sisters, and also told to properly punish the guys, who attacked you the other day. However, there are still many people in Le Wolfe, who don’t listen to what I say. You are also aware of that, right?”
“Then… Why leave such runaway guys be? You should quickly take care of them.”
As Irene calmed down a little. She sat down, with a thud, onto the sofa while glaring at Dirk.
“Even such people can be useful in their own way.”
“Useful……? Hmph, well it’s okay. But you know Dirk. Wasn’t a “cat” attached to Priscilla’s protection when I’m not by her side? What was that fellow doing at the time?”
“A “cat” was attached to her. Well. It looks like he was a little late this time.”
Dirk snorted as bored.
“A little late……you say?”
A dangerous light shone once again in Irene’s eyes.
“She’s a Regenerative anyway. She will still be okay if she suffered only slight scratches, right?”
As Irene slowly stood up, while looking downward, she casually set up Gravi-Sheath.
The purple scythe rumbled in her hand with a clattering sound.
For Corona, it looked as if it was laughing.
“––Go to hell!”
A cold voice with no emotions.
However, contrary to Irene's apparent casualness, the slash exercised was so unexpectedly fast as if to tear the wind itself.
The tip of Gravi-Sheath, aimed at Dirk’s throat with a high accuracy, changed its trajectory at the last moment as if it was blocked by an invisible wall.
Even so the blade, which had slightly grazed Dirk's cheek, left a red line.
Irene stepped back as to re-adjust the distance, and re-set Gravi-Sheath while still looking downward.
“Hmm, to think that the corrosion would go on until here……”
Dirk frowned unpleasantly –– it was like usual though –– and curtly stretched his voice.
“Hey… Irene. Who will be in trouble if I were to die?”
To those words, Irene raised her face as she was surprised.
The purple phosphorescence released by Gravi-Sheath quietly weakened.
“Also about this matter, even though late, he made it in time on the site. The “cat” could not just come out because that Seidoukan boy unnecessarily meddled in. He couldn't afford to be seen by those guys. You also know that. Right?”
“…… But. It’s a fact that she was saved by that guy.”
“I understand. I understand. Then… What the hell do you want?” Dirk casually said.
As he leaned back in his chair.
“At this rate it’ll inevitably be difficult to fight. I will proceed logically from here on, don’t you dare interfere.”
“…… Do what you want.”
Dirk, with a fed up face, waved his hand as if driving away a stray dog.
“Yeah –– Sorry for the disturbance.” Irene briefly said.
As she left the room staggering.
Soon after the atmosphere of the room loosened.
“Haa……" Corona greatly heaved a sigh. "It-It was really scary.”
However, a moment after she felt relieved, Dirk’s sharp voice immediately flew.
“Hey. Corona. What time is it now?”
“Y-Y-Yes! Errr, it is past 6:00 p.m.!”
As Corona hurriedly stood up, she immediately checked the time and answered so.
“It’s a good time…… All right. Foretell.”
“Eh? R-Right now?”
Corona surprised looked back at Dirk.
“Isn’t it better to do it after cleaning up the room for the time being……”
Thanks to Irene’s rampage, the student council president's room was messy. The office desk was cut in two, the carpet was tattered and the sofa was upside down. Though not very much, it was not a relaxing environment.
“……Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Y-Yes, I am sorry! I will prepare immediately!”
To Dirk’s voice, which was full of anger, Corona took out tarot cards from the pocket within her uniform and lined them on the floor.
“……So, what shall I foretell?” She timidly asked.
As Dirk folded his arms he curtly answered while looking down at Corona.
“As usual. Do it freely”
Though perplexed, Corona sorted the tarot cards according to a procedure.
The fortune-telling was one of the many hobbies of Corona. It was something she was properly taught of, but most of her knowledge about it was self-study. At the level of being crazy about it, and yet unskilled at it, it did not amount to much –– rather, it hardly ever proved right. Even so, Dirk would, Just like this, order Corona to foretell almost on a daily basis.
It was fine in its own right. But what troubled her was that Dirk did not say “what do you want to foretell?”. Since the fortune-telling was generally about something that was requested, she was troubled about this every time.
“Ah, then, since it is a rare occasion, I will foretell the chance of success of Urzaiz-san and her sister in the Phoenix!”
Corona clapped her hand to the good idea.
Though at last after being usually so much troubled, she foretold something she herself thought to be useless, such as the side dish for tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s weather, she found just the right material for fortune-telling today.
“Then, I will begin……” Corona closed her eyes.
She began to sort the cards by feel.
Then, a pale magic circle emerged around Corona, and a huge amount of mana began to flow.
But, Corona herself unaware of it, chose a card with her eyes still closed, and turned it over.
“––All right.” Corona finished turning over the five cards.
At the same time, which she chose, the magic circle disappeared.
Opening her eyes. Corona read the cards that were turned. “Err, the Sun in reverse position to the Fool normal position, and then……”
Enthusiastically let her face soon brighten and looked up at Dirk.
“I did it… President! It came out that Urzaiz-san and her sister will win!”
“Yea, I guess.”
As Dirk muttered it as if natural, he slightly waved his hands.
“Corona, go call one vice-president, it doesn’t matter who it is. After that, you may already go back.”
“Y-Yes, I understand.”
Corona quickly put the cards in order, bowed, then left the student council president's room.
Though the student council of Le Wolfe had taken a good form, verging on the dictatorship by the student council president Dirk, it was composed of vice presidents from the first to the third years, and many secretaries. They were an existence, which supported Dirk’s work and, in the proper sense of the term, closer to being an office secretary than Corona herself, who was only managing miscellaneous affairs.
“Still, the president really likes the fortune-telling.” She murmured.
While she headed towards the student council room which packed within the various VP secretaries and staff..
On the other hand, Dirk, who was left in the student council president's room, was lost in thought while still keeping his arms folded.
Since Corona’s fortune-telling results turned out like that… It became an unavoidable event. He must adopt some measures.
“––It can’t be helped, I shall make preparations.” Dirk muttered to himself.
He then took out a black portable terminal from the broken Office desk.
It was Dirk’s portable terminal and at the same time not. It was an exclusive portable terminal that was allowed to be used by only the student council president of Le Wolfe Black Institute.
Its was limited only to voice communication, without opening a space window, but Dirk operated it with practiced hands.
“Connect me to the Seventh “gold eye”.” He briefly spoke.
After a little while it responded with a low gloomy voice.
“……Invite you to dinner, you say? Don’t tell me you accepted it?” Julis asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, well.” Replied Ayato.
After staring at Ayato’s face for a while with a stunned look, Julis feebly sat down on the corridor of the training room and buried her head in her arms.
As she was at a loss for words, she kept silent as is.
Since Ayato expected her reaction, he didn't dare to make excuses.
Then Julis remained crouched down for a while, but as soon as she stood up, she slowly shook her head from side to side.
“––No, I understand. Since I associated with you, I have to get used to these things. All right, just exactly what I want.”
And then she laughed with a somewhat cramped face.
“Okay, for now tell me once again from the beginning what had happened.”
“Oh, like I said err, yesterday, I found Priscilla-san, who was attacked……, then after saving her I was attacked for some reason by Irene-san…… fortunately the misunderstanding was solved, but, Priscilla-san said that she wanted to thank me no matter what……”
Ayato was counting on his fingers while searching his memory.
“At that point, you learned that those two will be our next opponents, right?”
“Yeah, since Irene told me.” Admitted Ayato.
“And knowing that, you still accepted the invitation?”
“No, I also thought that it wasn’t a good idea after all, but, I couldn’t refuse.”
Ayato said so while scratching his cheek.
“Besides, we may be enemies in the Festa, but there’s nothing other than that……”
Julis raised her eyes and yelled at Ayato.
“Leaving aside the example of the matter with Cyrus, this city is the haunt of wicked men, who can even catch a weasel asleep. Those, who entrap others for themselves, and those, who used tricks, are a dime a dozen. What would you do if it was a trap?”
“I-It’s all right. Both of them don’t seem to be such bad people…… Well, Irene-san can certainly be dangerous sometimes though.”
“That’s why I said that you’re naïve. If humans, who plot an evil deed were all villains, one would have no trouble. Don’t trust people that easily.”
Her opinion was quite right.
“Then, how about you, Julis?” Accused Ayato.
“We have formed a tag in the Phoenix, but if both of us are to participate in the Lindvolus, it means that we will be enemies, right? At that time, must I also doubt Julis?”
From the beginning, Ayato did not intend to participate in the Lindvolus. Since becoming Julis’ strength was the reason for the current Ayato’s fight, he was just speaking of an assumption.
It might be a slightly unfair way of saying it, but the effect seemed to be immediate.
Julis mumbled with a complicated expression––
“Haa……I understand. Do as you wish.”
She greatly sighed as she soon gave up.
“However! I just have one condition.”
Julis thrust her finger at Ayato, who asked a question in return.
“––you shall let me accompany you there, too.”
The next day. Evening.
The address, which Priscilla gave him, was that of a room of a mansion in the residential area.
Though it was not to the degree of being called a high-class mansion, it was a neat building with a clean and stylish feeling.
“Since you said that you were invited to dinner, I thought it would be in a restaurant……why is it in a mansion?”
“No, don’t ask me.” Ayato was surprised as well.
As so. He couldn't answer in any other way.
“I hope that it’s not really some kind of trap……”
Taking along the suspicious Julis with him, he headed towards the designated room.
Then, the door quickly opened and Priscilla dressed in an apron welcomed them with a big smile.
“Welcome! Ah, you are Riessfield-san, right? I am sorry to not have been able to greet you the other day.”
“Ah, no, likewise……”
“Now, please come in without reserve. I will immediately prepare the dishes.”
As he entered the room with Julis, who was completely taken aback, there was a table set in the living room, which was neatly cleaned up, and Irene was sitting in one of the chairs with a sour look. As expected, she was not in her uniform figure, but she was roughly dressed in a T-shirt and jeans.
“……Yo.” Said Irene, as she turned her gaze to Ayato and Julis for an instant, and soon faced away again.
From the start, since Ayato did not seem to agree with this even though Irene invited him, one could say that it was natural.
Though Irene's attitude was overly contrastive to Priscilla’s cordial interactions. It, currently, seemed rather good to Julis.
Her habitual smile full of confidence returned, and she sat down to the front of Irene across the table.
“My greetings, LamilexiaViolent Vampire Princess. Is this the attitude to keep in front of your guests?”
“……I don’t remember inviting you, Gruene RosePetalblaze Witch.” Stated Irene.
“Hmph, as you know, this softhearted fool is my tag partner. I will be troubled if something were to happen to him. So, well, I accompanied him.” Defended Julis.
Then, Irene revealed a teasing smile.
“You seem quite worried about him. Are you his mother or what?”
“W-Who's a mother?”
Julis and Irene were checking each other in that way, but strangely there was not that much a serious atmosphere there. It looked like both knew the boundary line.
While thinking that in a sense they were getting along well, Ayato also sat next to Julis.
“Thank you for waiting.”
Priscilla carried the dishes there.
Many dishes of which were probably appetizers which had been placed upon small plates were lined up on the table.
“There are chickpeas and tomato salad, aioli of potato, fried garlic pepper shrimp, and Segovia style mushrooms.”
“Oh! I was waiting for this!” Irene said, obviously, anticipating her sister's meals.
“Onee-chan! Watch your manners!”
Irene promptly stretched out her hands to a dish with a smile never seen until here, but Priscilla hit and stopped it.
“Eeeeh! Isn’t it fine, just a little?”
“It’s not fine! In the first place, if Onee-chan is the first to start eating although this is made to thank Amagiri-san today…… Oh!”
Irene, without paying attention to what Priscilla said, casually picked up a dish.
As Julis chuckled when seeing it, she softly whispered in Ayato’s ear.
“I see, it seems that the LamilexiaViolent Vampire Princess is also a caring person.”
“She probably intends to test it for poison.”
Julis said so and slightly shook her shoulders.
“Hey, you guys should also eat. Priscilla’s cooking is the best, you know?” Irene said, obviously, with a huge appetite.
Irene was continuously stuffing her mouth while while saying so.
Priscilla seeming to have already given up sighed and turned her gaze towards Ayato and Julis.
“I am sorry, both of you.” Priscilla apologetically said.
“No, it’s alright. Well… Then let’s also eat.”
Like that. The meal began without debate and there was no lie to Irene’s words.
“…… I- It’s delicious.”
Julis muttered, who ate a mouthful of mushrooms, as she was surprised.
In fact, all the dishes were very delicious. They were not at all high class dishes, but, they had a homely warm taste which let one feel relieved. Nevertheless, a little ingenuity was properly added.
“Wow. Thank you.”
“Fufufu. Right?” Boasted Irene.
Irene proudly stuck out her chest.
“…… It’s not really like you are the one being praised, you know?”
Though Julis was amazed, Irene seemed to be above all happy that Priscilla was praised.
“Ah, come to think of it, it’s a bit late, but…… what kind of room is this?”
Ayato remembered a question that he had completely forgotten and asked.
Then, Irene who was gulping down a drink curtly said.
“It’s the room that I usually use; what about it?”
“That you usually use...... and what about the dorm?”
All the six academies of Asterisk required all the students to live in its dormitories. As a general rule, it was not admitted that a student lived in the city area.
“There is such a privilege to the Top Twelve of Le Wolfe. Of course, it doesn’t mean I’m saying that openly.”
“So, I also often come here to clean up and cook, but…… However often I said to Onee-chan, she refuses to return to her room in the dorm.”
Priscilla said so and smiled wryly.
“But, it was safe this time. Since after all, I could not have both of you come to Le Wolfe.”
“I should say as expected of Le Wolfe, it has a dreadful freedom……”
“But, why expressly a room outside of the dorm?”
Though he thought whether the dorm of Le Wolfe was that harsh an environment, he immediately understood that it was wrong.
“……The entertainment district is near from here. It’s somehow convenient.”
Irene answered with a slightly upset face while energetically eating.
“I see. The business of night amusement, huh.”
As Julis sarcastically said so, Irene frowned further.
“It’s not like I’m spending my time playing. I only make money since I need it.”
Julis’s hand stopped to those words.
“Which reminds me, I heard from Ayato. Seemingly, you had trouble with some illegal casinos.”
“If it’s only to earn money, there are many other ways to earn it. Why necessary take such risks?”
“Other ways, eh……then, tell me those ways.”
Irene laughed in a somewhere self-scorn feeling.
“Whether I tell you or whoever, isn’t it for that exact reason that you now participate in the Phoenix?”
“Ah, I see. If I’m not mistaken, you also come here in order to earn money, right Gruene RosePetalblaze Witch?”
“Wha-!? How do you……!”
“The intelligence agency of Le Wolfe is excellent, you know?”
Seeing the flustered Julis, Irene simmered, and rumbled her throat.
“Mmm. But you know… Both our circumstances and positions are different. Even if I were to win the Phoenix, my wish has already been granted. It’s such a contract.”
“Contract, you say?”
To the suspicious Julis, Irene set a glance towards Priscilla for an instant.
“––Ah, then I will shortly go looking after the oven.”
Priscilla left her seat with an ambiguous smile, and headed towards the kitchen.
Irene exhaled after confirming it, and let her chair slightly creak.
“Simply put, I’m the pawn of the student council president of Le Wolfe Black Institute, Dirk Eberwein. Long time ago, I had borrowed a huge amount of money from that bastard Dirk, and already had my wish fulfilled. And then, by following his orders, I’m clearing my debts little by little.”
“The ‘TyrantUnscrupulous King’, huh……”
Julis sank into silence with an unpleasant face.
That name also rang a bell for Ayato. Even in Asterisk, while countless bad rumors emerge from the infamous person amounted close enough to contend for first place, on the other hand, he hasn’t once ever heard one good rumor.
“The contract is made so that my participations in the Festa are limited, and that even if I was to win, I would not be able to assign the reward as repayment. Well, he probably wants to use me as his pawn as long as possible. Really, what a nasty bastard, that guy.”
Irene said so and shrugged her shoulders.
“That said, I also don’t want to work forever under him. That’s why, in order to return the money as soon as possible, I make painful efforts night after night.”
“Is that debt such a great amount of money?”
“Who knows how many decades it will take to return the money if I were to work legitimately.”
It must be a considerable amount.
“––I see. So that means, the fact that you participate in this Phoenix is due to Eberwein’s suggestion. Huh. There is a purpose, other than winning the Phoenix, right?”
Irene loosened her lips grinning to Julis’ pointing out and looked at Ayato.
“Good deduction. The instruction that I received this time from Dirk is –– to crush you, Amagiri Ayato.”
Though Julis promptly stood up, she did not feel hostility from Irene.
––At least, not yet now.
“Why do you expressly tell us that?”
Even if it was true, there would be no need to say it.
“I also have what you call honor, you know? I owe you for having saved Priscilla. At this rate, it would be difficult to settle it…… it’s like that, so sit down… Gruene RosePetalblaze Witch. I don’t intend to dabble here.”
“…… Why does Eberwein target Ayato?”
Though still on guard, Julis slowly sat down.
“According to what Dirk says, because it seems that he wants to crush Amagiri before it’s too late, the Ogre Lux that he uses is something troublesome.”
“Ser-VerstaThe Demon Sword of The Black Furnace? Certainly, it's a powerful Ogre Lux, but will he go that far just for that?”
To Julis’ question, Irene nodded as she also agreed.
“I’m of the same opinion. Dirk is the cold-blooded brute worst bastard, but he’s not incompetent or a coward. Since that guy is that much cautious, there should be some bigger reason.”
As Irene said up to there, she turned towards Ayato.
“I don’t know what Dirk is plotting, but there is one that I was able to guess from his way of talking. It seems like he also happened to meet the previous user of that Ogre Lux, with his own eyes, before.”
To those words, Ayato unintentionally half-rose to his feet.
“It’s strange. As far as I have looked into the past loan records available to the public, there should not have been any user of that Ogre Lux in this last decade. And yet where and how did he see it……”
His heart was heavily beating fast.
In other words, it meant that Dirk Eberwein knew the person, that is Ayato’s older sister –– Amagiri Haruka, who had used Ser-Versta before Ayato.
“I thought that around there, there might be the reason why you are targeted, but…… It seemed like I was dead on mark.”
“Well……, yes, probably. Anyway thank you.”
The reason why Ayato came over to Asterisk was in order to discover a goal to seek after. Since his older sister left the house from her own will, there was surely probably some sort of reason there. Therefore, he did not think to forcibly find out about it. It proved how much Ayato believed in his older sister.
Nonetheless…… It would be a lie to say that he was not interested.
And all the more since he found some clues.
“Okay, well then, with this I pay my debt.” Which Irene said with a refreshed face
Priscilla then appeared with a big iron pan.
“Sorry for keeping you waiting. Here is the seafood and Paella mushroom.”
It, which spread a fragrant smell with a sizzling sound, looked quite delicious.
“Fufufu, Priscilla’s Paella is really a great masterpiece. Eat with care.” Irene proudly stuck her chest.
“Stop bragging… Onee-chan. Come on, serve it quickly.”
Priscilla responded with an embarrassed face.
Looking at those two figures, Ayato felt an emotion, which he could not put into words, welling up within him.
“Well, then it’s almost time to go home.”
Having drunk coffee after finishing the meal, Ayato and Julis looked at each other and stood up.
“Huh, already? You can take it easy a little more……”
“Stop, Priscilla. Even if you want that badly to be friends with them, tomorrow, we will confront anyway. All of us have finished with our business… So it’s already enough. Right?”
Irene said while holding back Priscilla who tried to stop them.
“I don’t like it, but, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m still moving by Dirk’s order. With this… I won’t have to hesitate anymore and tomorrow… I will crush you to my heart’s content. If you don’t like it… You should quickly give up.”
“……Go easy on me.”
Ayato replied to it with a wry smile and left the room.
“Ah, then, I can at least see you off……!” Priscilla quickly ran after them.
Irene though, did not feel like stopping her.
“Thank you for the meal today. Priscilla-san. It was delicious.”
“No, don’t mention it, um. I am sorry for everything caused by my sister.”
Priscilla was going to bow her head in a humble manner, but Julis stopped her kindly.
“No. It’s not like I don’t understand the LamilexiaViolent Vampire Princess’s point too. Don’t think badly of me, but we will also fight with all our might tomorrow.”
Priscilla hung her head dejectedly.
“Priscilla-san… I see you don’t like fighting that much.”
It might be natural for ordinary students. But when it came to the students of Asterisk City––, and what’s more, the students of Le Wolfe, it should be pretty rare.
But certainly, there was no doubt that Priscilla was a girl who looked more lovely, while cooking in an apron outfit like today, than in an image of holding a weapon and fighting.
Just an ordinary girl, which, one found everywhere. That was Priscilla Urzaiz.
The reason for such a girl to dare stand on the stage of the Phoenix was––
“……My older sister is fighting for my sake. That’s why I cannot run away.”
“Even if your blood is sucked?”
That sight was quite shocking.
However, Priscilla faintly shook her head to Julis’ words.
“That much is nothing. Since I am only protected by Onee-chan all the time until now, I am glad, that I can at least help her, even if a little. Just…….”
Priscilla stopped her words there.
“––When my older sister is using Gravi-Sheath she is a little scary.”
As Ayato urged her, she said so in a faint voice.
“At first I thought that maybe it was because she was not yet familiar with the weapon, but……how should I put it, my sister, while she is using that, is somewhat really berserk, as if she is a different person –– and recently, it’s more and more……”
Priscilla, who seemed to mutter almost all she was saying, suddenly raised her face there.
“S-Sorry! For saying such a strange thing……”
While lightly waving both her hands, Priscilla apologized.
In the meantime Ayato and Julis, who arrived at the entry of the mansion, bid farewell there.
“See you later.”
They waved their hands to Priscilla, who deeply bowed her head, and left the mansion.
“……Julis, what do you think?”
After walking the night cityscape illuminated by the streetlights for a while, Ayato suddenly asked.
“About Gravi-Sheath? Well now, from my perspective, I don’t see the difference with when the LamilexiaViolent Vampire Princess is violent normally…… what, don’t tell me you feel needless compassion?”
“No……No, well, it’s true, but it’s not like that.”
As Ayato pouted, Julis smiled wryly and shrugged her shoulders.
“Fufufu. I’m kidding. I know what you’re trying to say, but –– even so, it’s a fact that there is nothing that we can do about it.”
She certainly had a point.
“We have our own fight to think about. So we should first concentrate on it.”
『"Oh my. Ayato. What is it at such a time?"』
That day, as Ayato, who returned to his room, contacted Claudia on her portable terminal, the space window opened after the hold time for a while.
Lately, since Eishiro did not come back for days under the pretext of summer vacation, there was no need to be careful.
“Sorry for suddenly contacting you, Claudia. There is something I want to consult you with.”
『"I am glad to receive a call from Ayato for a consultation. What kind of business is it?"』
“––A little about Ogre Lux.”
As Ayato said so, on the other side of the window, Claudia’s calm face became just a little tense.
『……I see, then it would be better to directly meet and talk about it. So let’s meet now –– is what I would like to say, but unfortunately my schedule is still tight. I will finish at a slightly late time, but is it all right?』
“Yeah, I leave it to you.”
『"Then……well, let’s say at 12:00 tonight, in my room."』
“Ugh…… I-I understand.”
He wanted to avoid sneaking into the girl dorm if possible, but since it was his request he couldn't say no.
“By the way Claudia, are you all right?”
『"? About what?"』
“You look a bit tired.”
Claudia had her calm smile as usual, but she looked like she somewhere lacked vigor.
Then, it was rare to see Claudia frankly open her eyes wide with a surprised face.
『"Ara…… You noticed well."』
“Yeah well, somehow.”
『"Fufufu, I don’t know whether you are really sharp or dull. But… It proves how much you pay attention to me."』
Claudia saying so looked somewhat happy.
『"I was just a little busy with work, otherwise I am all right. Thank you for your concern. Then later again."』
When the space window shut Ayato checked the time. The needles of the watch pointed 9:00 p.m.
“Work until late at night. huh…… It’s difficult being student council president.”
Since Ayato’s match was ahead, tomorrow in reality, he wanted to rest his body a little early. However, it wasn't sure whether he could catch up with Claudia before tomorrow’s match.
“I only hope that I’m thinking too much……”
As Ayato muttered so, he turned his gaze outside of the window.
A red big moon was floating slightly eerily there.
Sneaking into the girl dorm at night was not something he got used to no matter how many times he did it.
Managing somehow to reach Claudia’s room while breaking into an unpleasant sweat, he knocked at the window.
The key seemed to be opened, but there was also no reply this time like last time.
As he had no choice but to intrude since he could not cling to the wall forever, a faint light was drifting within the dim room.
Several space windows, which were still kept opened, were fluffily floating.
Looking closely, Claudia was sleeping as she fell prostrate in the desk along the wall. Though her figure was illuminated, with the pale light of the space windows, there was still a slightly fantastic beauty.
Ayato was fascinated for an instant, but he soon noticed that the situation was strange. For someone, who was only just sleeping, her expression was strangely steep.
Strongly furrowing her brows, she occasionally separated her pink lips and a gasp of agony leaked.
(Is she seeing some bad dream……?)
Anyway, it would be better to wake her up.
The moment when Ayato, who was thinking so, opened his mouth––
Two gleaming silver streaks had torn through the darkness and attacked Ayato.
The fact that he had avoided them, one could say, was luck. At least it seemed an attack that he could not avoid as his present self.
It was only because his Ogre Lux had activated, in such a short time before expanding the blade, that even Ayato, in his currently sealed state, could dodge it.
Still unable to figure out the situation, Ayato stepped back, until reaching the window, and called out. “……”
However. Claudia, who stood up slowly without replying, her hands loosely hung down both sides, set up the ominous twin swords –– Pan-Dora.
Though the light coming in from the window illuminated Claudia, her expression could not be discerned because she was looking downward.
“W-Wait a minute! Claudia!”
At that moment… Claudia moved.
Yet seeming to advance slowly, at first, in the next moment she had already entered Ayato’s range. Ayato instantaneously released his power and simultaneously slipped through and dodged the twin swords coming from all directions.
––Or so it seemed.
The blade, which he thought that he should have dodged, came back by drawing an arc and approached before his eyes. It was an attack which looked as if the twin swords were predicting Ayato’s movements.
Although Ayato twisted his body and somehow managed to avoid it, he broke his balance and fell down on his back to the floor. As Claudia sat astride Ayato as is in a fluid motion, she silently raised the twin swords.
Ayato called her name the third time, and stretched out his hand almost in desperation.
His fingertips slightly, –– just a little, touched Claudia’s cheeks.
Just as Claudia’s body shivered with surprise… She suddenly stopped the raised arm.
Claudia was looking down at Ayato for a while with a dumbfounded face, but she suddenly jumped back as she came back to her senses.
“S-Sorry, Ayato! What have I done……!”
Surprise and regret and above all an intense agitation appeared on Claudia’s face. It was his first time seeing Claudia revealing such emotions.
Anyway, as he seemed to be safe for the time being, he heaved a sigh of relief.
On the other hand, Claudia put Pan-Dora on standby and turned her back on Ayato. While heavily breathing for a while as it is, she fixed her breathing.
“––I am really sorry. It seemed that I, of all people, was a little careless.”
And when she once more turned around to Ayato, she had already returned to the usual Claudia. She deeply bowed her head apologetically.
“Yes, I was indeed surprised……what on earth was that?”
Ayato said so while raising his body and smiled wryly.
Honestly, it won’t be a lie if one were to say that he felt more dead than alive. Claudia’s sword was sharp with an unmatched accuracy, which was in no way inferior compared to Kirin’s. Of course, from the perspective of mastership, Kirin’s was more complete, but there was no doubt that Claudia possessed an extraordinary accomplishment in skill and technique.
“Well……from where should I start to explain……”
Claudia was slightly lost in her thought, but she immediately came to her senses with a sense.
“All right, since this is a good opportunity, let's talk about it. It’s probably not unrelated to what Ayato wants to know.”
“……What do you mean?”
Claudia recommended the sofa to Ayato, who tilted his head in wonder, and she herself sat down in the chair, in which she was sitting until a while ago.
“Before that Ayato, would you please hear one request of mine?”
Claudia’s pupils straightly gazed at Ayato.
“Though it’s a matter for the future, I would like you to take part in the Gryps next year as a member of my team.”
“The Gryps, huh……”
He was a little surprised at those unexpected words, but his answer was already decided.
“Sure. But only if Julis is with us.”
Ayato had promised Julis to be her strength. And Julis said that she aimed the gram slam. Though it was impossible in the Lindvolus, which was for individual matches, as long as Julis did not say “no”, he also intended to fight in the Gryps with her.
“I expected that answer. But…, honestly, I am envious.”
Claudia revealed a lonely smile.
“But. There's no problem at that point. Since it was also my intention to invite Julis to the team. And I think that she probably won’t refuse, either.”
Since Julis’ objective was the grand slam, she would naturally desire stronger teammates. If so, it was unlikely for her to turn down Claudia’s invitation.
It seemed like Claudia had already set up quite a concrete strategy for the Gryps.
“And… How is the matter of earlier and the Gryps related?”
“It was just to make sure that you will be a teammate before revealing the secret.”
Claudia said so and once again activated Pan-Dora.
There being also the matter of earlier, as expected his body reacted twitchily.
“Fufufu. Do not worry. I will not do what I did earlier anymore…… By the way Ayato, have you experienced death before?”
Ayato looked back at Claudia with a blank expression.
“E-Errr…… I don’t understand the meaning of the question.”
“Just take it as it means.” Claudia suggested.
“…… No, you would not be in this realm if you were dead, right?”
It’s not like you’re a zombie.
“––I have already died more than 12000 times.” Said Claudia somewhat amused.
Ayato looked at Claudia with the same blank face as earlier.
He had no idea of what Claudia was taking about.
While seeming to enjoy looking at such Ayato, Claudia raised Pan-Dora and showed him.
“The price that this child, Pan-Dora, requests from its user is “to taste your own death”. Whenever I sleep, I personally experience ‘the moment of my death to come someday’ in my dream.”
“You personally experienced the moment you die……?”
Claudia had frankly said so (and shown him) but, wasn’t that obviously a terrible torture?
“The disgusting side of this child is that it doesn’t just show the one same manner of death. It really appreciates how many ways there are of dying for people. From accidental deaths to deaths from illness, freezing to death, starving to death, suicide, and…… death dispensed by another. From all of that the one thing certain was that ‘someday I will probably have a certain death’.”
But, Claudia’s tone, which did not change, was calm and gentle.
“Since I was just about to be killed earlier too, it seems I had unintentionally attacked while I was half asleep. I am sorry.”
Claudia, who said so, once again bowed her head.
“When I wake up, the contents of the dream disappear as if melting. What is left is a fragmentary memory, the pain and fear of being on the verge of the death, and a sense of fatigue. While possessing the extraordinary ability to see the future, the reason why someone able to master this child did not appear is it. It seems that those, who owned this child before me, could hardly bear it for three days.”
She said so while laughing merrily, but the content was extremely appalling.
“……I’m surprised you’re okay, Claudia.”
“Yeah. Things like today also often occurred, but I surprisingly got used to it.”
As he recalled her painful sleeping face, of earlier, it did not look like anything like that now.
“Fufufu, I am happy. Do you worry about me?”
“Isn’t that obvious?” As he responded with a serious look to Claudia’s teasing tone.
Claudia, after being a little surprised, was slightly bashful.
“…… I think I mentioned it before, but, I also have a wish that I wanted granted. This child is absolutely necessary for that purpose.”
“Then…… What is Claudia’s wish?”
“It is, –– still, a secret.”
Claudia slowly shook her head.
Everyone came over to this city with a wish that they want to fulfill.
In order to fulfill that wish, he sought power in order to win and win.
It might matter, to be an issue, of course.
“Well, let’s return to the topic. Thus, the greater the Ogre Lux’s ability is to be powerful, the more severe the price on its wielder tends to be. For example. If your Ser-Versta was in the hands of an average Starpulse Generation it would consume such a large quantity of, the wielder's, prana so as to dry him up in no time. In the first place; It is a fact in itself that a high compatibility rating appearance is rare. In other words you could also say, the high hurdle, to even wield it, is included in the price.”
Claudia cut her words off once reaching that point.
Both her smile and her tone completely resumed their usual tune.
“In fact, since the price varies depends greatly upon individual Ogre Lux, it cannot unconditionally be generalized. I guess that what Ayato wants to know is something, which is related around this topic, right?”
It seemed like she was right on the mark. In that case; It saved the long talk.
Ayato directly cut to the chase.
“––Claudia, what do you know about Gravi-Sheath?”
“About that Ogre Lux, I have no more data than what I have handed to you.”
“Not the data, I want to hear Claudia’s opinion. As a user of an Ogre Lux.”
As Ayato grumbled “even though you know what I mean”. Claudia shook her shoulders with a chuckle.
“Well……as you know an Ogre Lux possess a will. Do you understand what it means?”
“Eh? Errr…… Hmm……”
Though Ayato inquired so and was thinking about it, the appropriate answer did not seem to come in mind.
He frankly surrendered by lightly raising both of his hands.
“Fufufu. It is the same as humans. Having a will means having a personality and having a personality means that one can roughly classify them by demarcation.”
“In other words… Good-natured Ogre Lux and ill-natured Ogre Lux.” Claudia stated evenly.
“…… I see.”
Same as humans, huh.
“Well, there are many other ways to say it. For example, you can also say, some Ogre Lux are friendly with humans and some Ogre Lux not so friendly with humans.”
“If I go by that example, which one do you think Ser-Versta is?”
“He –– oh, sorry. It might be “her”. Anyway, I think that that kid has a relatively good personality. Well, he seems to have a somewhat rebellious nature though.”
“Then, what about Pan-Dora?”
“Fufufu, this child already has the worst personality. It’s a good match with me though.”
Claudia held her mouth as if it was funny.
It was indeed like Claudia to declare such a thing on her own.
“Then –– what about Gravi-Sheath?”
“That kid is……”
Then Claudia cast down her eyes just a little.
“I do not really want to speak ill of another kid, but he has a somewhat dangerous feeling.”
“……As expected, Claudia also thinks so?”
Ayato was also of the same opinion.
That Ogre Lux itself was dangerous. Not its ability.
If borrowing Claudia’s words, then its personality is……
“Anyway, since I have yet to see it, this is only my impression, but it looks to me that that kid is quite selfish. That kind of Ogre Lux often interferes with its user.”
“Hmm, it's misleading to say “take over”, but it means that the Ogre Lux altered the user’s will and personality to its own liking. The longer you use it… The more notable it becomes. And much more importantly… That kid has such influence that it's extent can physically alter its user.”
Ayato took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling.
––In other words, it was probably like that.
“Thank you, Claudia. It was really helpful.”
“Do not mention it; are you going back already?”
“Since I have a match tomorrow. I have to rest soon.”
Then, Claudia bewitchingly laughed and openly put on coquettish airs.
“Then, I do not mind even if you sleep here.”
“N-No, I will pass……!”
Ayato hurriedly stood up and rushed up to the window.
However, when he put a foot on the window frame, he suddenly turned his face.
“Oh, that’s right. About the matter of my nee-san…… The student council president of Le Wolfe seems to know something about it.”
Claudia asked back as she was surprised.
“It may be, he has happened to meet nee-san before.”
“……I understand. I will check on this a little as well.”
“Yeah, thank you.”
After saying so, and bowing, Ayato opened the window.
Returning a smile to Claudia’s voice hung from behind while saying “Good luck for tomorrow’s match”. Ayato let his body jump in the darkness of the night.
Jump up↑ I mean here the staff of the student council
Jump up↑ The Japanese term for affordable apartment complexes that are not inside of high rise buildings, not an actual western style mansion. They are those one or two room apartments you see in every manga and anime you have ever watched.
Jump up↑ The Bloody Scythe of Supreme Destruction